For the civilian characters, the emphasis is on personal plots and relationships. Their main themes are surviving the unspeakable tragedy and the helplessness of the current situation, as well as making the best out of it. We put a lot of effort in creating interesting themes, fates, and surprises for these characters. They have far more flexibility in general, and they are far more able to decide freely when they want to have time to just relax or sleep (plus there is no need for rental uniforms).
The CREW And characters with set task
Around half of the characters have some kind of a role aboard the ship, whether they are the original crew of the ship or late additions that are already signed for specific tasks. For these characters, the major thing is taking care of their tasks throughout the game. Basically all of these characters will need a rental uniform.
Bridge and officers
There are 8 stations on the bridge. These are the commanding officer (captain/xo), navigations officer, weapons officer, communications officers, and science officers. The bridge crew works in two shifts throughout the larp. While there is no need to have all the stations manned at all the time, certain information (eg. scanners and communications) need to be monitored 24/7. This means that characters associated with the bridge will spend a lot of time steering the ship, making plans, communicating with other ships, preparing for battles, and maneuvering as well as monitoring different data streams provided by the systems.
There are four fighter pilots stationed in Odysseus, and a couple of extra ones will arrive with the other groups. We aim to prop two or three cockpits in the hangar bay. These are two-man fighters with one pilot and one weapons officer. Both pilots have headsets that let them communicate with the bridge and with each other. We are seeing good results from Empty Epsilon as a platform that will allow us to use several ships in the same scenario. This would let the fighters and the mothership see each other on the map and make maneuvers together. There will not be a high emphasis on space battles, but there’ll likely be a few bigger ones and a some close calls and minor clashes on top of that. In the meantime, the pilots’ gameplay will involve personal plots, and they might be assigned to assist marines with internal security.
Marines will have two major roles on board. As they have acted as internal security since the declaration of martial law, they will be there to break up fights and make sure that everyone follows orders. They are also the first and last line of defence in case the enemy manages to board the ship. Their priority task, however, is to perform land missions. There are three teams (one of them added during the game) who will be transported to planets to execute search and retrieve missions. Our current plan is to have four team members and two interchangeable specialists in each team. We aim to stream the missions on the screen aboard the ship through headcams. Each team will have two to three missions during the larp.
Some members of the military are not part of the crew of Odysseus. They come from other ships or the space station Atlantis. They will have a bit more flexibility in their gameplay than the original crew, but they are still members of the military, so they will most likely be assigned to new positions during the game. Most of these characters will require a rental uniform. Some of them might have a higher rank or special skills. They have more personal plots and contacts with the other passengers than the base crew. They can decide more freely if they want to play their personal plots and connect with the civilians, or to have more tasks and be more involved in military gameplay.
It is up to the engineers to fix everything that inevitably breaks up. It might be damage received in battles, systems breaking due to premature hyperspace jump, or disasters caused by the lack of maintenance. There will be maintenance tasks throughout the larp that need to be performed routinely, or they might be necessary to under certain conditions. Maintenance work comes as different types of “puzzles” for the engineers, ranging from just pulling two levers at the same time to setting calibration values to connecting wires. We are creating mechanical things to fix, crawl spaces to crawl in, and brain teasers to solve. For the engineers, these will be the main content of their game, but don’t worry: they will also have personal plots and relationships.
Medics are the ones who are doing their best to keep everyone operational. It’s up to them to patch up those who are wounded, and they will be performing routine medical check-ups and taking care of those passengers who have conditions requiring medical attention. There are two medics stationed on Odysseus, but considering the situation, all civilians with medical training have been drafted to help. Thus this group includes characters who are not originally part of the military. The medbay needs to be manned around the clock, so medical personnel will also work in shifts.
There are several scientists on board the Odysseus, since the ship’s latest trek was an exploration mission involved with scientific discovery. The scientists have different mysteries to solve, and they will uncover these in cooperation with both the EOC and Velian religions and the medical personnel. The scientists will be solving the riddles discovered in the beacons left behind by their ancestors, as well as mysteries of an ancient alien race and the technology they left behind. It is also their job to find out weaknesses and patterns in the enemy ships. Scientists do not have as strict shifts as the military personnel, but they too take turns on duty as there might be need to keep working around the clock.
Roughly half of the characters do not have specific tasks at the beginning of the larp. Most of them will be at some point drafted to help out or they are assigned to start learning some of the posts on board in order to guarantee the continuity if something should happen to those originally holding the post. However, most of them have the luxury of being able to say no. Civilian passengers have much more flexibility with their gameplay. They are able to choose their sleeping times more freely, and they have more time to focus on personal plots. Civilians come from different backgrounds and have vastly different personal agendas. There are politicians, priests, celebrities, law enforcement, criminals, and a group of survivors from the planet Velian. The civilians’ plots and contacts intertwine with each other as well as with the members of the crew.
Not wanting to make decisions or spent huge part of the larp tied to certain tasks? Waking up the middle of the night is not your thing? Want to experience the Finnish larp design and plots to the fullest? Then the civilian character group is perfect for you. We work very hard to make the whole experience as inclusive as possible. We aim to build technology and effects so that different alert states (Code red, code yellow etc.) are visible and playable to everyone and not just for the few players on the bridge. We work to project the tactical view to the big screen in the mess hall during the battles. Likewise, with the land missions. There will be a ‘pirate radio’ to leak interesting information to the civilians should the military decide to hold too many secrets. Civilians are able to move freely around the ship, and only very few places are off limits. Thus the passengers should be able to feel everything that is going on and not be cut out. It is up to them to decide whether the military should be allowed to make the big decisions for the entire civilization under the martial law, or whether those who were voted into power should have a say.
Politicians and law enforcement
There are senators, aids, diplomats, judges, attorneys, and police officers on board. They have interesting backgrounds connecting them with the other characters, and they are the ones to whom the other passengers look when it’s time to make decisions. They can concentrate on their personal plots or give more emphasis on the role they possessed before the attack.
There are those who have lived questionable lives before the attack. For them, this might be the time for atonement, or it could be a stepping stone to even greater power. There are bad people, there are unlucky people, and there are those who have just made some mistakes and paid a heavy price. These characters can go for many different directions, and they have a lot of personal plots and interactions with the other passengers.
There are two major religions. The Faith of the High Science is the most populous religion, and it is strongly connected to scientific research. It is not so much of a religion as a way of life. High ranking members of the faith are respected scientist who have dedicated their lives on helping others to succeed. The second most populous religion is The Old Ways, whose followers worship their ancestors and wish for a return to the lost paradise of humankind. Both major religions need to cooperate in order to solve the ancient mysteries introduced in the game. For the religion-based characters, theological debates and realizations are a major aspect of the game, as well as offering solace to those trying to recover from the unspeakable tragedy.
Roughly fifteen passengers come from the planet Velian. They start the larp in a different location with around same number of players from the EOC Space station Atlantis. They will spend the first hours of the game to solve problems of their own before being united with the rest of the players aboard the Odysseus. Velians live in a domed city built by an ancient alien race on a planet that is otherwise uninhabitable. Some EOC anthropologist and scientists have travelled to Velian to discover its mysteries, and the Velians have sent a few ambassadors to EOC, but due to long distances, interaction has been sparse. It is a common theory that Velians originate from one of the missing Genesis ships that never arrived to its destination. Velians have a very unique culture. They live in a strictly theocratic society and follow the teachings of their spiritual leader The Guardian. Velians have much to contribute in solving the riddles of ancient alien technology as well as the mystery concerning their shared inheritage with the EOC population.
There are mystery characters the outwardly belong to the other groups. These characters are not exactly what they appear to be: they might have some special information and instructions from organizers, or they might have a pre-defined fate to die or get injured at some point during the larp. Or it might be something else. These are not exactly NPCs, since the players can play their characters as they like and advance them to the direction they want. But it is necessary for the players to respect the instructions from the organizers on the fates of these characters. The characters are cast based on the casting questionnaire, and there are a few specific questions which we use to determine which players would most enjoy playing the mystery characters.
I hope that I managed to get you excited! Of course plans may change and new plans arise, but we will always put a lot of effort on creating a balanced experience for everyone. We hope that our players give some time to consider what kind of experience they are looking for. Our firm goal is to ensure that every character has the potential to be great with the right player; a player excited about the themes for that particular character and character group. We will ask your preferences in the sign-up form for the standard tickets, as well as again in the casting questionnaire. We are very excited about all of our character groups! Hopefully, you are as well!
Laura, Producer of Odysseus
Photos taken by Axelle Cazeneuve.
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Blog is written by several members of the production team.